Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Data Briefing

UK’s health and social care spending plans: more of the same?

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 27 November 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h6458
  1. John Appleby, chief economist
  1. 1King’s Fund, London, UK
  1. jappleby{at}

Nearly half of next year’s NHS funding boost will come from cuts to other health services, finds John Appleby

Five years ago the new coalition government set itself the task of repairing the United Kingdom’s finances. Through a combination of public spending cuts and tax rises, the government’s central macroeconomic plans in 2010 were to cut day to day borrowing and reduce the nation’s overall debt. By this year the fiscal repair job was meant to be complete.

Unfortunately, none of the government’s macroeconomic targets has been met. Borrowing is 3.9% of gross domestic product (GDP), not 1.1% as planned; the structural current deficit is 3.4% (£640.7bn (€920bn; $970bn), not zero); and, at over 83% of GDP, the national debt is 16 percentage points higher than planned.1 2

Instead of the sunny uplands of a booming economy and nearer to normal long run levels of deficit and debt, the government—intent on sticking to its debt and deficit reduction policies—is embarking on another round of spending cuts.

This week’s spending review has now set …

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